Location, reputation attracts employees 

Australians lead parade of foreign workers

By Andrew Mitchell

The Whistler Chamber of Commerce surveyed almost 300 of the more than 800 people who turned out for the Whistler Employment Resource Centre job fair last week, hoping to use that information to help resort employers meet future recruiting goals.

The good news is that Whistler still has a reputation as a good place to live and work, with 46 per cent of prospective employees crediting Whistler’s physical location as one of the main reasons they chose to move to Whistler. Another 35 per cent said it was Whistler’s reputation.

The survey also gave some insight into the origin of workers. Australians accounted for 105 of the total, followed by roughly 60 Canadians, 50 from the U.K., 30 Koreans, and 24 Germans. There were also a significant number of respondents from South America, particularly Brazil.

Of the international employees, 72 per cent are here on working holiday visas, 22 per cent are on other types of Canadian visas, and the remaining six per cent are here on study programs, work swap programs, and other guest programs.

The job fair was considered a success, with more than twice as many people turning out this year as last year. According to Randall Butler, a recruiting specialist hired by the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, the numbers reflect the effort that has gone into attracting new staff to Whistler to offset a shortage of workers.

“This is going to be an ongoing challenge,” he said. “We have to consistently work at the process of recruitment given the demographics we’re facing and what the worker market is like all across the country.

“We put it on the radar this year and people came.”

It’s still unknown what kind of worker shortage Whistler can expect this winter. Whistler-Blackcomb interviewed 1,700 prospective workers for up to 1,200 seasonal positions at their job fair two weeks ago, on top of the 450 workers who were pre-hired over the summer in an international search for workers.

However, one survey of Sea to Sky employers found that Whistler could face a shortfall of 4,000 workers a year heading into the 2010 Games.

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